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A Sense of Normalcy During Challenging Times

Richmond District YMCA – The Yearbook Project


Boy, it’s been a challenging year to say the least. When Shelter In Place went into effect, families with children were left to balance work and distance learning. For many other families who are essential workers, finding reliable and safe in-person childcare became the number one priority.

The Y saw the needs of the community and quickly pivoted to provide emergency childcare services. As the months passed, and we adjusted to our “new normal”, the Y felt it necessary to be a support system for the students as they adapted to this new lifestyle. Our childcare sites became a home away from home for many students.

As a team, we are constantly working to enhance and improve our programming. We thought, what else could we do to make our “new normal” exciting. We also realized that there were many fun school activities the students were missing out on. How can our team provide a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times for our youth?

As we reflected over the past few months, an idea sprung! We should have a full-blown picture day for our students. After more consideration between and a colleague and me, we decided to start working on a yearbook for the students. We knew our students and families would really love this idea.

The team created a Spirit Week for our students, ending the week in Fancy Friday for our picture day. We made sure to have a special YMCA photo backdrop, and have our students wear their fanciest outfits for picture day.

The excitement that our students shared filled the classrooms with so much joy. The youth in my specific cohort experienced the behind-the-scenes work of the yearbook. Our youth loved to see their photographs all across the yearbook. Especially the photos they took on picture day. They were very excited to see the project come to life during printing trials. I asked for their input in color layouts and cover options.

We broke down the yearbook into sections to highlight categories our program did and offered. By far my favorite part of the yearbook was creating our ‘Celebrating Our Graduates’ section. We ordered caps and gowns for our 5th and 8th graders in their school colors and took additional special photos of them. Along with these photos, our youth got a surprise page dedicated to them. It included a heartfelt letter from their parents with photos of them when they were younger. That really made me tear up inside.

Now that the school year comes to an end in the next few weeks, the Richmond District YMCA is honored to have shared beautiful memories throughout this stressful year. Our goal for this yearbook project was to bring joy to our youth and families, and it did just that. Years from now, we will look at this yearbook in awe and will admire the resilience we had as a community.